Treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome with antidepressants: a meta-analysis

JAMA. 2009 Jan 14;301(2):198-209. doi: 10.1001/jama.2008.944.


Context: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic pain disorder associated with multiple debilitating symptoms and high disease-related costs. Effective treatment options are needed.

Objectives: To determine the efficacy of antidepressants in the treatment of FMS by performing a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials.

Data sources: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library databases were searched through August 2008. Reference sections of original studies, meta-analyses, and reviews on antidepressants in FMS were reviewed.

Study selection: Randomized placebo-controlled trials with tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were analyzed.

Data extraction and data synthesis: Two authors independently extracted data. Effects were summarized using standardized mean differences (SMDs) by a random-effects model.

Results: Eighteen randomized controlled trials (median duration, 8 weeks; range, 4-28 weeks) involving 1427 participants were included. Overall, there was strong evidence for an association of antidepressants with reduction in pain (SMD, -0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.55 to -0.30), fatigue (SMD, -0.13; 95% CI, -0.26 to -0.01), depressed mood (SMD, -0.26; 95% CI, -0.39 to -0.12), and sleep disturbances (SMD, -0.32; 95% CI, -0.46 to -0.18). There was strong evidence for an association of antidepressants with improved health-related quality of life (SMD, -0.31; 95% CI, -0.42 to -0.20). Effect sizes for pain reduction were large for TCAs (SMD, -1.64; 95% CI, -2.57 to -0.71), medium for MAOIs (SMD, -0.54; 95% CI, -1.02 to -0.07), and small for SSRIs (SMD, -0.39; 95% CI, -0.77 to -0.01) and SNRIs (SMD, -0.36; 95% CI, -0.46 to -0.25).

Conclusion: Antidepressant medications are associated with improvements in pain, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and health-related quality of life in patients with FMS.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fibromyalgia / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antidepressive Agents